IBLCE: Code of Professional Conduct

April 9, 2021 Written by Mary Foley, RN, BSN, IBCLC

Study review

IBCLC = International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant

IBLCE = International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners

ILCA = International Lactation Consultant Association

IBLCE was established in 1985.

IBLCE is an international organization.

Definitions from Oxford Languages

  • Bias – favoring one side or issue over another

  • Plagiarism - the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

What does it mean to be a professional?  First, you are considered to be a professional (vs. non-professional) if your work requires specialized knowledge and advanced skills in an area.  But are knowledge and skill all that are required to be considered a “professional?” What about professional behavior? Well, that’s a little harder to define. According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, professionalism not only relates to your technical knowledge and skill, but it includes the ethical standards of your profession, as well as being courteous and conscientious in your work.1 With that in mind, let’s see what the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) has to say about the professional conduct of IBCLCs.  

IBLCE encourages IBCLCs to uphold “the highest standards of ethical conduct,” while practicing their profession. They further define those standards in the document, “Code of Professional Conduct for International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (CPC).” 2

The CPC consists of eight principles, which require every IBCLC to:

  1. Provide services that protect, promote and support breastfeeding

  2. Act with due diligence

  3. Preserve the confidentiality of clients

  4. Report accurately and completely to other members of the healthcare team

  5. Exercise independent judgment and avoid conflicts of interest

  6. Maintain personal integrity

  7. Uphold the professional standards expected of an IBCLC

  8. Comply with the IBLCE Disciplinary Procedures

The CPC is “a mandatory practice-guidance document and every IBCLC is required to practice in accordance with its principles.”3

Under each of the principles listed above, are more specific guidelines which each IBCLC is responsible to know. Here are a few of those expectations:

  • Follow all applicable laws

  • Respect intellectual property rights (don’t steal the work/ideas of others)

  • Provide appropriate care in a safe and confidential way

  • Disclose conflicts of interest and don’t let commercial influences effect your judgement

  • Withdraw voluntarily if you have a mental or physical disability which could be detrimental to your clients

  • Behave fairly and honestly

  • Withdraw voluntarily if you have engaged in substance abuse that could affect your practice

  • Agree to comply with the IBLCE ethics and discipline process

In addition, there are three more important terms for you to understand that are found in this document: “due diligence,” “malfeasance,” and “misfeasance.” 

Due Diligence

Due diligence means taking reasonable care not to harm someone. In lay terms, due diligence means doing your homework.

Malfeasance

Malfeasance is doing something that is illegal and you do not have the right to do. It is intentional. For example, an IBCLC signs a prescription for a breast pump or for a medication. Clearly this is illegal (unless the IBCLC has an additional license to do so) and would constitute malfeasance.

Misfeasance

Misfeasance, on the other hand, means that you have the right to do something, but you’ve done it in such a way that it causes harm. For example, you gave appropriate care but your care was given in such a way that it caused emotional distress. It was unintended, yet it happened.

To help you remember the difference – think of the MIS in misfeasance as a MISTAKE, and you will remember that this means it was unintentional but not illegal.

Both misfeasance and malfeasance are a violation of the CPC (Code of Professional Conduct for International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants).

It is such a privilege for us to work with breastfeeding families, isn’t it?  But with that privilege comes a unique responsibility. The bottom line is that we must each be responsible for knowing and adhering to the expectations and limits of our lactation practice. The IBLCE CPC helps us to do that.

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1

Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Merriam-Webster.  https://ww.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/professional

2

International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs. 2015. https://iblce.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Code-of-professional-conduct.pdf  Accessed March 24, 2021

3

Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition. Edited by Rebecca Mannel, Patricia J. Martens, and Marsha Walker. Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2013